Evidence for the Use of Bufo marinus in the Olmec Shamanic Tool Kit




Lytle, Whitney C.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



This thesis explores the use of toad imagery in Olmec iconography. The Bufo marinus, secretes a highly toxic poison that, when used with discretion, has hallucinogenic properties. Both archaeological and artistic representations strongly suggest imagery of the Bufo marinus was used in Olmec art as a focus of transformation rituals. The majority of interpretation on Olmec transformational images has been supernatural beings, such as the jaguar. I suggest characteristics of these supernatural entities have been misinterpreted and are actually based on the Bufo marinus. Furthermore, I propose these characteristics imply the use of bufotinen in order to control the toad's ability to transform. My thesis will demonstrate through the use of Erwin Panofsky's method of structural analysis the expanded presence of toad imagery within the larger corpus of Olmec style art.



Bufo marinus, Olmecs, shamanism, Mexico, religion


Lytle, W. C. (2009). Evidence for the use of Bufo marinus in the Olmec shamanic tool kit (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


Rights Holder

Rights License

Rights URI